Bird Observers' Club

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Birdwatching in Sydney since 1979

Database - Make your knowledge count

Understanding Red Wattlebirds and Noisy Friarbirds in the Cumberland County.
We now have over five years of data in the Cumberland Bird Database. We present here an analysis of the data for the Red Wattlebird and the Noisy Friarbird to give you an idea of what is possible so far. As you can see from the maps and graphs the information that has been collected in considerable and reveals much about these species locally. It is hoped that we will be able to present this type of information for about 300 species occurring within the County.

Red Wattlebirds were more frequently reported than Noisy Friarbirds with approximately three times the number of records covering 50% of grids wheareas Noisy Friearbirds were reported from 38% of grids. Noisy Friarbirds were recorded at slightly higher abundances during surveys where they were encountered.

Red Wattlebird records were evenly distributed betweeen months of the year, suggesting that this species is resident. Its distribution is mainly the eastern half of the County with most records from urban parks and gardens and from heathland. Noisy Friarbird records reveal some seasonal variation in reporting rate with peaks in autumn and spring. This suggests that this species is probably nomadic or migratory in the County. It is often absent in winter, except when eucalypts are flowering, which does not occur regularly from year to year. Its distribution is mainly the western half of the County with most records from forest and woodland, particularly from Cumberland Plain and Castlereagh Woodlands.

Red Wattlebird distribution map compiled from the CBOC database.
Both honeyeaters breed within the County. The reporting rates for breeding do not appear to differ significantly when adjusted for overall reporting rate of each species. The most notable difference is that Red Wattlebirds appear to start breeding two months before Noisy Friarbirds. It is possible that Red Wattlebirds are breeding earlier to ensure some breeding success before the arrival of the Koel. The later breeding of the Noisy Friarbirds coincides with the emergence of cicadas, which are a major prey fed to chicks in the nest.

Obviously there is a need for caution when interpreting these results because the data set is still smaller than ideal. It remains to be seen whether these interpretations hold true when more data have been collected. Nevertheless, patterns are emerging that will facilitate our understanding and hence conservation of birds within the County. Atlassers are to be congratulated for their efforts and further contribution to this important database is encouraged.

Noisy Friarbird distribution map compiled from the CBOC database.

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